Meal replacement protein shakes and flavorful loaded teas are coming to Highway 31 next to the Merle Norman store. As of the time of printing, Vestavia Hills Nutrition was planning to open by mid-January 2021 with a high bar to place orders to-go or sit for a while at a table or bar stools. If you’ve looked around Birmingham lately, nutrition concepts like this have been popping up seemingly everywhere. To find out more about why that is, we chatted with the owners of this one, Jay and Erica Culpepper, about why they are opening one here. Follow them on Facebook or Instagram @vestaviahillsnutrition for updates.

How did you discover this nutritious shake and tea concept?

We live in Mississippi, and my primary job is an orthopedic surgeon. Two and a half years ago we started going in nutrition clubs in Mississippi that had opened. As a physician I was able to do the research and see it was a healthy option. We loved the drinks and the positive enthusiastic atmosphere and thought it would be fun to bring to our town in Greenwood, Mississippi.

And then what happened?

Two years ago we opened our own location in our hometown. It was a really good thing for us, and from there we started looking at other places to open them. Mississippi had caught on fire, and there are now 250 stores there. We looked into Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. We have opened one in Nolensville, Tennessee, and now we are opening ones in Villa Rica, Georgia, and in Vestavia Hills and Sylacauga in Alabama in early 2021.

Tell us about your shake and tea offerings.

We serve meal replacement protein drinks that are under 250 calories and are low carb and low fat. The goal is to be healthy and help people lose weight. Our loaded teas are an energy drink that contains vitamins. Those are 24 calories and 0 sugars and 2-4 net carbs. Those are what made the business take off. We also offer post-workout shakes with whey protein and beauty drinks that contain collagen, and we offer protein bars and ala cart items.

What are the most popular flavors?

The most popular shakes are banana pudding, snickers, strawberry cheesecake, and chocolate caramel cappuccino. The most popular teas are cucumber watermelon, Captain America (a strawberry and blue sweet tart flavor) and gummy bear. We also offer kid friendly drinks, like a gummy worm drink, that come in different flavors and colors. Most are named after Disney characters. They are hydration drinks—essentially flavored water with no sugar and no caffeine.

Why do you think this nutrition concept is spreading so quickly?

I think any time you give people the option of great flavored drinks that are also healthy it catches on quickly. I think a lot of it is customer service. People love the atmosphere, and I loved going in initially because everyone is nice and friendly. We try to make everyone working in our store distributors so they have an investment in the business so they can open their own club in the future. We have them work with us prior to opening and train them on site.